What is SSI?
SSI is a monthly cash payment from the Social Security Administration. These payments are for individuals who have low income and resources, and who are disabled, blind, or age 65 and older. Both adults and children can get SSI. For 2020, the most you can get in SSI benefits is $783 per month for one person. If you and your spouse both get SSI, the most you can get is $1,175 for both of you.
What types of non-citizens can get SSI?
Unfortunately, most immigrants cannot get SSI. Some immigrants who can get SSI are:
- Refugees / Asylees (But if you are a refugee or asylee, you can only get SSI for 7 years after you receive your immigration status. After those 7 years, you cannot get SSI.)
- Some people from Cuba and Haiti.
- Lawful permanent residents (people who have green cards) who have been here for more than 5 years and who (or whose spouse) have worked for 10 years in the U.S.
- Refugees / asylees, some people from Cuba and Haiti, and lawful permanent residents who have been lawfully in the U.S. since August 22, 1996 and who are disabled.
*Note: A few other types of immigrants can get SSI but are not on this list. If you are not sure about your eligibility, visit your local Social Security office.
How do I apply for SSI?
- Visit your local Social Security Office.
- Bring proof of your immigration status.
- If you do not speak English well, ask for an interpreter. The Social Security office must figure out what language you speak and help you in your language.
What if Social Security denies my SSI claim?
You have the right to appeal and ask Social Security to reconsider their decision. There are deadlines for appealing, so it is important to act quickly.
Each time you appeal, you have 60 days to ask SSA to reconsider its denial decision. If you are currently receiving SSI and you get cut off, you must appeal within 10 days of the decision so that you can keep getting benefits while the SSA makes a decision in your case.